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The Woman in White (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  79,770 ratings  ·  4,519 reviews
The Woman in White is a Victorian melodrama concerning a mysterious woman in white who bears an uncanny resemblance to the fiancee of Lord Glyde, a sophisticated fortune hunter. First published as a serial between 1859 and 1860, this chronicle of evil, suspense, and villainy is believed to be the first English novel to deal with crime detection.
Paperback, 500 pages
Published 1993 by Wordsworth Classics (first published 1860)
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Primero Fin I think anyone around 10-12 years old or older would understand this. Probably some 8-9-year-olds too.

This has the same feel as any Dickens' novel.…more
I think anyone around 10-12 years old or older would understand this. Probably some 8-9-year-olds too.

This has the same feel as any Dickens' novel. Use that as a barometer.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Gazal It is a hunch since the writer has never portrayed the true relationship between Sir Percival and Laura's father. It can be determined that Sir…moreIt is a hunch since the writer has never portrayed the true relationship between Sir Percival and Laura's father. It can be determined that Sir Percival somehow or the other managed to maintain his charm with Laura's father or he might have blackmailed her father with Anne's secret. The family name and honour was the uppermost in those days hence it might be the latter. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Grace Tjan

Beware of spoilers!

What I learned from this book (in no particular order) :

1. Italians are excitable, dedicated to the opera, and most likely to be involved with organized crime.

2. Beware of fat, jolly Italian counts with submissive wives and fondness of white mice and canaries.

3. Watch out if your newly wed husband lives in a stately pile with an abandoned wing full of creepy Elizabethan furniture. If the said ancestral house is surrounded by dark ponds and eerie woods, expect the worst.

4. A Ba
...more
Jason
Feb 06, 2010 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: 'The Classics' group, Jan 10 book
DON'T READ THIS BOOK, unless you've got the patience, stamina, and requisite taste for a quintessential mid-Victorian novel. If you don't, you'll think The Woman in White is terribly overwrought and 500 pages too long. If you like Victorian writing, you'll think this is a well-drawn, balanced novel with characters to root for, characters to despise, a twisting plot that rolls up seamlessly, and narrated ingeniously from multiple points of view. If you're unsure whether you like or dislike Victor ...more
karen
this is a weighty relic of a book. it's pretty enjoyable, just don't expect any surprises, unless you have missed the last 20 years of police procedurals on the television set. i'm sure in its day it was chock full of surprises, but i have to shudder at the contrivance of characters talking aloud to themselves while unknown to them, people hide in cupboards or whatnot, overhearing exactly the information they are most desirous of. it does make me yearn for these times when it seems pulling a con ...more
Bill  Kerwin

The only real flaw in this densely plotted page-turner of a novel is that in the end it slightly disappoints because it promises more than it delivers. It makes the reader fall in love with its plain but resourceful heroine Marian Halcombe, and teases us with the delightful prospect that she will become the principal agent bringing the villains to justice. When, in the middle of the novel, Marian tells her half-sister Laura that "our endurance must end, and our resistance begin," it seems like a
...more
TJ
This book is an amazing teaching tool. Not because it conveys any great lessons in life or exhibits profound understanding and insight but because it so clearly delineates the beauty and differences in 19th century writing and 21st century writing.

The story is definitely very gothic and one of the best mysteries available. It is in the length of the story - most especially the length of the writing that will probably cause many readers to balk. The descriptions, the conversations, the ideas... v
...more
Henry Avila
Walter Hartright, a struggling drawing teacher, is walking at midnight back to Victorian London, after visiting his widowed mother and sister, at their cottage, in the suburbs, to say goodbye, a quiet trip, nobody around, the road empty, everything's still, not even the leaves on the trees flicker, in the blackness, nothing, only his moving steps are heard, thinking about a lucrative job, in a faraway county of England, that he reluctantly took ( he has a bad feeling about), because his friend P ...more
Alex
I've never liked the term "butterface." I don't object to the objectification; I just don't like the sound of it. Nonetheless, it unavoidably popped into my head at my introduction from behind to Miss Halcombe, as Collins allows Hartright to ogle "the rare beauty of her form...[and] her waist, perfection to the eyes of a man, for it occupied its natural place...visibly and delightfully undeformed by stays*," before she turns and he's horrified by the revelation that "The lady is ugly!" (I.6)

Sinc
...more
Virginia
My friend Nora Ephron suggested i read this. Okay, I don't know her, but I feel like she'd be a friend. Therefore I honored her recommendations.

In her collection of essays "I Feel Bad about my Neck," she includes a bit about books that have completely transported her. She says it better than I do about this wonderful mystery:

"I open Wilkie Collins's masterpiece, The Woman in White, probably the first great work of mystery fiction ever written (although that description hardly does it justice),
...more
Arah-Lynda
Originally published in a weekly periodical between late 1859 and 1860 as a serial story, this is believed to be the first English crime detection novel. This is Victorian fiction that combines romance, mystery and Gothic horror with a psychological twist.


The story opens with an eerie encounter, in the dead of night on a moonlit London road.


In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop… There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth…stood the figure of a solitary w
...more
Jane
Where I got the book: public domain freebie on Kindle.

This is one of those novels I've been promising myself I'd read for years. I was expecting a really creepy ghost story, but what I got surprised me.

The plot: this is one of those Victorian novels told through a series of documents, with several narrators giving their accounts of the tale. Drawing teacher Walter Hartright has a nighttime encounter with a woman in white, and later learns that she has escaped from an asylum. By an amazing coinc
...more
Shan O
I haven't quite finished Wilkie Collins' brilliant 19th century novel, "The Woman In White," but I had to go ahead and start my review to say that I am thrilled with it. I picked it up from the shelf because it was in the mystery section of my local bookstore, and I took it home because Collins had me on the first page.

Having its origination as a 19th century serial novel, "The Woman In White" is written in first person; in fact, it is actually a modified epistolary form from the perspective of
...more
Rachelle
Loved, loved, LOVED this book. It's definitely in my top 5 for all time! I would love to hear from anyone else who has also read this. Not sure how I've missed knowing about it for so long - and I'm really gonna miss it!

Soooo, it's a 'classic' - written in the greatest time period ever (1850) and comparable to reading a really long Austen novel with a dark, suspenseful twist. Can you beat that?

I would recommend this to anyone who loves to read - savor and enjoy it!

Carol
This Wilkie Collins classic, written in 1860, is a multi-layered mystery written with elaborately defined detail resulting in some pretty amazing and memorable characters. The beginning of the story really grabs your attention with the suspicious appearance, in the dead of night, of the mysterious Woman in White and keeps you anxious to find out the reason for her distress throughout the book.

This novel was not quite what I expected (view spoiler) and required dedicat

...more
Tony
Five of us get together every year around Christmas. In a tavern. We exchange pleasantries, and then, we take turns announcing our Top Ten Books of the year. Some explanation for each selection is expected. As here, why the book was special is better received (by me) than: What was the plot/Who were the characters/yagabbadagabbadagabbada....

About five years ago, Jim was half-way through his list when he announced, "My next book is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins." There were nods of the ap
...more
Lynette
SPOILER ALERT because I'm sick of whiners leaving me comments.

Wow. This is supposed to be a classic mystery? The Woman in White was one of the most boring books I've ever read, and I've read a LOT of Victorian books. The plot is seriously that a woman marries a man she doesn't want to marry, and he stages her death to collect her fortune. YAWN. Am I supposed to be impressed that she followed through with her word to her father and married Sir Percival, even though she loved Walter? Nothing inter
...more
Duane
There was much to like about this novel. It's a wonderful 19th century English classic, it's a top-notch mystery, the writing is very good, and the characters were well developed and memorable. A small fault for me was the length. This story was told from the pov of several individuals, and I think a few of those were superfluous and redundant. Nevertheless, the flow was good enough to keep my interest and the pages turning. This is my first Wilkie Collins book and by most accounts his best. Whi ...more
Kim

Finishing this audiobook felt like an achievement. The book is long and complex and required concentration and commitment. But what a journey it has been!

As is the case with the only other of Wilkie Collins' novels I have read to date, The Moonstone, the book is structured as a number of separate narratives, each narrator telling their own part of the story in the first person. There is something about this way of telling a story that I find very appealing. Characters only tell what they know,
...more
MichelleCH
Ok. Amazing.

I must confess that initially I had thought that this would be a ghost story. The title is very mysterious and the cover made the woman in white appear ethereal. Generally I try to not read too much about a book before I begin. I like to just let it unfold as I read.

Anyway, despite my initial misconception, I loved this book. It had a great build-up, amazing characterizations, and the "just right" ending.

It is told in pieces from varying viewpoints which give it the flavor of indiv
...more
Alice Poon

I'm giving this novel 3.5 stars. The story started out very promising, but then towards the last one-third, especially the denouement, it got a bit drawn out and trying on my patience.

Overall, the plot is very intricate and saturated with well thought out details and the characters are vividly drawn. The writing style can be somewhat cumbersome though, but not unusual of authors of that time period. I do like the sensitivity and compassion towards women that Collins displays throughout his writi
...more
Laura
If you want to read a real suspense novel, read this. This book has it all. What do you prefer? A page-turning plot? Got it. Beautiful writing? Check. Brilliant characterization? People who jump off the page into your living room? Villains who manage to have endearing qualities? A quality love story that is integral to the plot? Oh. Almost forgot. Outstanding audio performance? This book has you covered. Yes, it's a classic, but it's not clunky. It reads fast! Everything you want is right here, ...more
Lou
The story is told throughout the novel by various characters narrative's. They are placed along the story from beginning to the end to pick up the enquiries and story to a conclusion. It is written in a very English correct language and some real tension and atmosphere is created by some narratives. This was originally released in serial form and that shows in the way story is told by the different characters narratives of the general universe around The Woman in White. Maybe weaker as a novel t ...more
Kelly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott
A paradigm of thrilling Victorian melodrama, Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White (1860) is an engrossing read whose 600 pages captivated me over a long weekend. Haunting dreams, telling names, insane asylums, poisonings, spy rings, illness, kidnappings, and all the other trappings of gothic fiction are threads in a convoluted plot that requires the statements and confessions of half a dozen witnesses to untangle. The labyrinthine, often redundant narrative -- a test, sometimes, of what a Reader's ...more
Jane
I’ve been terribly torn over the question of whether of not to re-read Wilkie Collins. You see, I fell completely in love with his major works when I was still at school, and I was scared that I might tarnish the memories, that his books might not be quite as good as great as I remembered.

I’m thrilled to be able to say that my fears were unfounded. The Woman in White was better than I remembered. A brilliantly constructed and executed tale of mystery and suspense, written with real insight and u
...more
Ellie Red
I was spellbound while I was reading this novel. Masterfully told, magical and haunting. All the characters are unique and interesting . Marian, Walter, Laura, Anne, Count Fosco written with their one personal colors! My favorite is Marian, strong, selfless, full of love. The plot is very interesting, filled with suspense. I quite enjoyed the fact that the tale was told from different perspectives. The thing that really made an impression on me was the way Collins wrote it, with such passion, yo ...more
Linda
One night, on a lonely road, Walter Hartright meets a woman dressed completely in white. What he doesn't know is that she is going to change everything. After that encounter, he is constantly reminded of the woman and he becomes interested in her mysterious character. Why does she know so much about the place he now lives in? Why does she seem to fear people in that area? And why are certain people afraid of the mere mentioning of her?

This is considered to be one of the first mystery novels, as
...more
Kate
Apr 02, 2007 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are not crazy in the noggin
Although I've read in several places that Collins's main career achievement was essentially to invent the modern detective story in The Moonstone, I found The Woman in White by far the superior of the two novels. (In fairness, people don't generally fall over themselves in praise for The Moonstone as a novel so much as for depicting a new kind of sleuth.) This book is wonderfully written. Collins uses different narrators - perhaps eight altogether, but two or three main ones - and while he can't ...more
Pink
Another book that feels hard to rate. 3-4 stars, depending on which aspect I'm considering. It was slow to start and slow to finish, but there were some wonderful sections in the middle, that had me glued listening for days. Of the story, there was lots to appreciate and I didn't find irritations with any of the characters, as I've seen others complain about. I don't think it will be a favourite, but it was definitely worth reading.
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This novel contains many things. Some of them are:

- A love story between Walter, a surprisingly determined and resourceful young man and Laura, a remarkably bland and passive young woman who makes only two decisions in this book, one of which precipitates an avalanche of misfortunes upon her and all who love her

- A portrait of Marian, an intelligent, loyal, courageous and strong woman who is relegated to second fiddle to Laura, the dippy blonde and because her dark complexion and somewhat manly
...more
Tamora Pierce
I had resisted reading this for years because I thought it was one of those "literary" novels, and I had developed a phobia about literature in school. (I'm sure someone has noticed the strange empty spaces on my lists by now.) Lately, though, I've been on a ghost story kick--not a bloody-ripping-horror kick, but one with actual ghosts--and I picked this up thinking it was one and determined to try it even if it was literature. I had started it when my Spouse-Creature told me it's actually consi ...more
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4012
A close friend of Charles Dickens' from their meeting in March 1851 until Dickens' death in June 1870, William "Wilkie" Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. But after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens' bloomed. Now, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has received for fifty years. Most of ...more
More about Wilkie Collins...

Other Books in the Series

Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural (1 - 10 of 62 books)
  • An Arsène Lupin Omnibus
  • Australian Ghost Stories
  • The Beetle
  • The Bell in the Fog & Other Stories
  • The Black Veil & Other Tales of Supernatural Sleuths
  • Carnacki, the Ghost Finder
  • Casebook of Sexton Blake
  • The Casefiles of Mr. J.G. Reeder
  • The Castle of Otranto, Vathek & Nightmare Abbey
  • Children of the Night: Classic Vampire Stories
The Moonstone No Name Armadale The Haunted Hotel: A Mystery of Modern Venice The Law and the Lady

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“My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.” 681 likes
“Any woman who is sure of her own wits, is a match, at any time, for a man who is not sure of his own temper.” 465 likes
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